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Long Beach, Calif. – For the second consecutive year, the Ballislife All-American Game presented by Eastbay was a one possession game at halftime, with the winning club pulling away down the stretch. It was Team Elite that pulled away in the 153-134 victory over Team Future in the seventh annual national all-star game played before a capacity crowd at Long Beach (Calif.) City College.
The players most responsible for helping Team Elite pull away in the last 10 minutes of the game were guards Isaiah Washington of St. Raymond's (Bronx, N.Y.), Ethan Thompson of Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) and Collin Sexton of Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.).
Team Elite was up nine points when Washington was inserted following a media timeout and he immediately made a difference, scoring or assisting on 12 consecutive points for his team to give it a sizable cushion. The biggest lead for Team Elite was 140-119. Washington, a point guard headed to the University of Minnesota, was an early fan favorite with his "Jelly" finger-rolls and moves around the basket. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
While Washington had his Jelly going, the crowd fell in love with Sexton, the ultra-competitive scoring guard headed to Alabama. Sexton wasn't interested in creating a bunch of memories or making new friends, he wanted to get the win and torture any player in his way while putting on a show for the paying customers. Sexton developed a friendly rivalry with UCLA-bound Jaylen Hands (Foothills Christian, El Cajon, Calif.) that began in Thursday's practice and it carried over into the game. Down the stretch the two got entangled into isolation matchups and Sexton won over the crowd with a couple of finishes, his bravado, dancing and flair for the dramatic. The crowd booed when he left the game and cheered wildly when he checked back in for the final two minutes.
Sexton finished with 27 points and four assists for Team Elite. Thompson was the most consistent performer of the game, as he helped Team Elite jump out to a an early 12-4 lead and consistently hit shots or finished plays around the basket. He finished with a game-high 32 points and added four rebounds and three assists. His scoring output was the third highest in the event's history.
Team Elite out-rebounded Team Future, 50-35. Team Future kept pace for as long as it could by hitting 15-of-40 3-pointers, including three apiece from guard Trae Young of Norman North (Norman, Okla.) and Li'Angelo Ball of Chino Hills (Calif.). Team Elite made 6-of-28 from behind the arch.
Sexton, who goes by the nickname "Young Bull", was awarded with the co-MVP trophy along with UNLV-bound center Brandon McCoy of Team Future. The Chicago native and Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.) product scored a team-high 30 points and finished with a team-high seven rebounds. After a slow start offensively, the 6-foot-11 McCoy was energized by the crowd and by trying to get his team back in the game. He made 14-of-18 shots from the field, including a 3-pointer.
"It was great to compete against a talented group of guys like these...I'm thankful and blessed that I was put in position to shine and win MVP," McCoy said. "I thought the game was pretty fun...the crowd got really into it and it really got me going."
The other player that went over 20 points for Team Future was Arizona-bound Brandon Randolph of Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.). He finished with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Press row's choice for game MVP was Thompson.
"It was a great experience to be able to play in this event," said Thompson, who made 14-of-18 shots from the field, including 3-of-6 3-pointers. "I'm glad I got the opportunity to finish my high school career playing with and against highly-skilled players."
Hands, who finished the game with 16 points, won the BILAAG Slam Dunk Contest presented by Eastbay. The 3-point contest was captured Washington.